After my son, our first child, was born, my husband confessed that up until the moment he saw the baby's face for the first time, he didn't feel much of a connection to him. Although I knew he was so very excited to be a dad, I was flabbergasted that he didn't love him until after he was born! For nine months I had loved and cared for the squirmy little baby. Had I included my husband enough in the pregnancy?
When we discovered we were pregnant with our second child, we were both overjoyed -- but I was also very worried. How could I possibly connect my husband to this baby when he was going to spending more than half of the pregnancy overseas? I'm lucky that my husband, former military now working as a contractor for the Department of Defense, was able to schedule his deployment around the birth of our son, but for many deployed spouses this simply isn't possible.
According to the Department of Defense, there are currently 1,452,939 people serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. And for many of these military and contracted spouses, being apart from their spouses for major life events is just a part of everyday life. Being alone during pregnancy can be extremely difficult -- especially when your partner is thousands of miles away. Nothing can take the distance away, but finding creative ways to connect your spouse with the pregnancy can help close the distance. Try some of these great tips from military moms to help involve your spouse in your pregnancy during deployments -- or even help your mate at home feel more connected to your pregnancy.
Download a pregnancy app for your spouse. This will allow your spouse to follow along during the pregnancy. Make sure you both have the same app so you can talk about what you read each week and how it applies to you. Brittany O. of Las Vegas also sends her husband monthly belly pictures to go along with the updates.
Schedule a 3-D ultrasound. There is nothing like seeing baby's chubby cheeks for the first time, and a 3-D ultrasound can help build anticipation for the moment you hold baby in your arms. Many 3-D packages include a DVD that you can send your spouse. I'm recording a description alongside the DVD so he can listen along and know what he's seeing. Emily Graham of Wilmington, NC, took this idea even further. She didn't tell her husband she was going to do a 3-D ultrasound, and she used the images to create a scrapbook using the pictures to send to her husband overseas.
Document your monthly doctor's visits. Create video updates after each doctor?s visit. Make sure you write down notes after each appointment so you can accurately share what happened, what is new with the baby, and any changes that have happened since the last visit. If videos aren?t your thing, try starting a private blog that just the two of you can see. Update it regularly with pictures of your pregnancy, ultrasound photos, pregnancy cravings, and recaps of doctor?s visits. Emily recorded her baby?s heartbeat for Daddy to hear. Brittany Skyped with her husband while in the doctor?s office during all of their ultrasounds, and plans on using Skype for the birth as well.
Create a cravings care package. One of the things my husband loves most when he is deployed is getting a box of goodies to enjoy. Amanda Norton of Albany, NY, sent her husband a themed box that featured her pregnancy cravings: pickles, BBQ potato chips, and all sorts of candy. That taste of home can help your spouse understand what you're craving.
Be creative with pictures. Because this is our second pregnancy, I've been doing monthly side-by-side comparisons of my growing belly with my first pregnancy belly for my husband to see. Not only can he see how baby is growing and my body is changing, but he can compare it to something he has already experienced. If this is your first baby, consider posing next to a chalkboard where you can write your baby's gestational age, size estimation, your new waist measurement (if you dare!), and your current cravings.
Involve your spouse in purchases for your baby. Go beyond just making sure it is okay to buy something for the baby, and give him choices. Jessica Gordon of Las Vegas takes advantage of modern technology by emailing or Skyping with her husband to keep him involved in nursery planning. Try sending two or three choices of an item -- bedding options, furniture ideas, strollers -- and let him decide what he likes. Take step-by-step pictures of the nursery as it gets done, including the paint and the d?cor, so he can feel like he's up to date. This also allows him to be prepared when he comes home for all the changes that have occurred while he was deployed.
Communication is key! No matter how you choose to involve your spouse, the best thing you can do during any deployment is communicate. Take advantage of all that modern technology has to offer. Send emails and pictures, and talk about your pregnancy every chance you get. If your baby is being a belly wiggle worm that day, let your spouse know. Send him a picture of your crazy dinners, or your swollen toes! Often we forget to share the things we would if our spouses were home and available. If you would share it with him if he were home, email it to him now -- no detail is too small to share. This one step alone will help your spouse feel more involved -- even if he's thousands of miles away.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.